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Examining the Need for Wraparound Services

The old adage claims that it takes a village to raise a child. At College Now, we also believe that it takes a village to educate a child, and that village includes people as well as wraparound services that remove obstacles to student success.

The students with whom we work at College Now are often saddled with a number of barriers to success, stemming from family, health and/or economic challenges. Facing any number of these obstacles makes academic success a challenge, as students may find themselves sidetracked during their studies, unable to find the time to meet all their responsibilities or they might be unable to physically make it to school at all. Providing wraparound services for students at their school buildings provides a higher level of support that helps them succeed academically and personally.

Wraparound services can include anything from health and wellness care to mental health services, parent and family programs to legal and economic supports. By offering these services in school buildings, challenges to accessing such services, like physical distance, are eliminated. Wraparound services bridge gaps between parents and schools, creating a stronger relationship between families and their children’s education, which is critical to student success.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District partnered with United Way of Greater Cleveland in 2013 to identify Investment schools within the district, designating a Lead Agency to coordinate wraparound services within each school. These Investment schools would create a framework for providing direct and comprehensive services to address the needs of students, families and community members. College Now was chosen to be the Lead Agency tasked with implementing robust wraparound services in John Adams High School. Since then, through the work of College Now’s Wraparound Site Coordinator, we have strengthened existing programs and developed strategies for new programming to meet the academic, physical, social and emotional needs of those at John Adams and in the community.  John Adams offers enrichment programs for students after school and during the summer; guidance to parents about staying involved in their students’ academic lives; adult education and career support; medical, dental, mental health and social services; early childhood support; and community and economic development services.

At John Adams, the overarching goal of the wraparound services offered is to ensure that students complete high school with a plan for their postsecondary education and career choices. The strategy is focused by four core principles: comprehensiveness, coordination, coherence and commitment. This means that staff at John Adams aim to respond as comprehensively as possible to the needs of students and parents; coordinate the involvement of all stakeholders; ensure that supports and services are coherent and aligned to the instructional program at John Adams; and commit to these wraparound strategies as long-term and not just a one-off program or project. You can read more about John Adams’ wraparound strategies and their goals on the school’s website.

As College Now has seen at John Adams High School, wraparound services are an important part of creating a supportive academic environment. When students are struggling for any reason, be they sick, hungry or faced with legal concerns, they are less likely to put their focus into their schoolwork. When parents and families are unsure how to interact with school administrators and teachers, their concerns are left unaddressed and issues may not be resolved. Implementing wraparound strategies in high schools provides the supports necessary for academic and personal success and also demonstrates the commitment a school and organization has to students, families and the broader community.

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